It’s a tough life in the neighborhood, and I ought to know: Dito Montiel’s coming-of-age drama (there’s that phrase again) about getting the hell out of Queens and coming back all grown up is set right here in Astoria. Recognizing the streets beneath the rumbling N train, the Greek restaurants and garishly lit corner delis kept me entertained for a while, but from what I can tell, Astorians these days don’t have quite as much bad sex in stairwells and fewer baseball bat fights over graffiti than Dito and his buddies. The scenes between Young Dito (Shia LaBeouf) and his girlfriend Laurie (Melonie Diaz) are sweet, but their grown-up counterparts Robert Downey Jr. and Rosario Dawson don’t have a whole lot to do. As Dito’s parents, Chazz Palminteri and Dianne Wiest get an overripe “Daddy never loved me” storyline, and in the end, everything’s wrapped up much too neatly. If you only have time for one low-income NYC neighborhood drama, make it Raising Victor Vargas.
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints. Dito Montiel, 2006. **
[tags]film, 2 stars, robert downey jr., rosario dawson, dito montiel, astoria, nyc, photos, queens, coming of age, baseball bats, teenagers, sex[/tags]